Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Practical Work in Science Lessons

In this blog post I wanted to give myself an opportunity to consider practical work and think through the current state of my own practice. I am aware that I am probably better than I think I am at doing all the things that as science teachers we set ourselves to do. However, in that difficult juggling act of teaching I strive to reflect on all areas.

As part of my work in thinking about the key stage 3 curriculum I wrote myself a list of the techniques that I would expect students to be able to do at the end of key stage 3.

I am also reminded of a discussion about the separating salt from rock salt lesson, trying to persuade colleagues that if students get nothing else from the lesson they should be learning about how to draw scientific diagrams. There is no other lesson I can think of that uses quite the range of equipment in Year 7.

I understand from reading I have done and CPD sessions I have attended that it is desirable to have specific objectives when teaching practical skills as well as the objectives you would have when teaching knowledge. So I would like make sure we have an idea of the expectations of what students should be able to do with equipment, and not just general statements like 'fair testing' and 'name variables'.

I cannot be the only teacher who has no trouble when students are asked to use a stop watch. I have taken to repeating 'do not stop the stop watch' over and over during practical explanations, as a result of struggling with Year 9 groups. And I am now finding myself explaining how to read a stop watch after Year 10 and 11 students wrote down things like 00:15.34 as a recording for time. "That's what the stop watch says". Indeed, but what does it mean?

Don't get me started on setting up clamp stands!

Although I am probably only frustrated by one group within a class and only frustrated in a small proportion of lessons it is still enough to get me to think about the issue.

I have worked in a school that had competency booklets. What a blinking nightmare. How can I assess the work of 24 students there are then at the end of the lesson without specifically designing a 15 minute plenary that doesn't require my support while I go round and sign these booklets off with a comment, date and my name? It isn't all the practical in reality. Plus these competences were generic and designed around the parts of an investigation and therefore more subjective.

On top of that we had no scheme of work (quite usual in this school) and therefore matching a skill to a lesson was my choice and not mapped out. Perhaps if I didn't have so much thinking to do in the lesson planning... No one checked, no one talked about them, so I forgot about it.

I think in the 6 years since then technology makes it more practical for students to compile their own evidence of technical ability. And perhaps this could be assessed outside of a formal qualification framework?

I think it is important that students do learn to use the equipment properly and recognise limitations and appropriateness during key stage 3. I want my students to learn science from their practical work and I don't think this will be easy if they are grappling with the uses of the equipment too.

So, isn't what I say obvious? Well, yes. So why can't some of my Year 11 students adequately write down a time from a stop watch?

I think partly because the curriculum taught does not encourage the development and consolidation of practical techniques. One lesson on lighting a Bunsen does not make you an expert on heating for the rest of your school career. And partly because we are already doing too much in one lesson. A lesson on voltage is about making observations and drawing conclusions, interpreting diagrams, creating circuits, drawing circuits, using symbols and having a grasp of what voltage is, as well as using a voltmeter. Sometimes that voltmeter is actually a multimeter - how complicated.

What do I need to do?

Slow down and remember that teaching some of it well is better in the long run than teaching all of it badly.
Focus on the technique students are learning. Use starters and other short activities to establish basics like looking at scales before starting practical work.
Create video tutorials for using equipment to help introduce ideas in a clear way.
Question students during lessons about the techniques they are using, why it is or isn't effective as if that matters.
Encourage the reflection by students on their practical work by including it as part of lessons and takeaway homework tasks.
In the long term consider blogging as a method of keeping practical diaries.
But first I must get to grips with the new curriculum so that I can see the key places for development, consolidating and extending use of techniques.

I do think that practical work is important, not necessarily to help with learning or understanding of abstract scientific concepts, but because students should not take things as face value. It is through experimenting that scientific discoveries are made or confirmed, and students should experience that as authentically as possible.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Nurture 14/15

I have thought about this and there is no way I can describe my year in only 5 things without skirting over a lot of things. So I will do 14 and cut down my aims for next year to 5. 

It always seems that I do a lot, but this is because I say 'yes' to as much as possible. 

14 from 2014. 

1. Getting Married. 
We got married on the 30th August. It was quite a surprise when Richard agreed to tie the knot back in January. We have been together since January 2006. It was a lovely day and a fantastic experience to be able to publicly acknowledge our love, which we are not that good at doing. In October we had a blessing in Northumberland followed by a meal in the village hall, that was a really nice occasion with all the people I knew when I was little.

2. Exam Results
I suppose any secondary teacher's year is made (or rocked) by the results students get in the summer. More so when you are a head of department and feel responsible for them all. The GCSE results we got were spectacular. Much higher than I expected. I put this down to the hard work and determined revision of our students. There is talk of 'mastery' in the education world, but my students do aim to achieve it and often strop at my when they don’t understand something. Nothing less is failure to them. It is fantastic, but demanding. A-level results were not as exciting. All the Year 13 students got what they needed to get into university, but I was hoping for two A* grades and there is still work to do with Year 12. I have spoken openly to many people about As results and many have experienced a level of disappointment and feel there has been an impact of the loss of the January examinations. However, terminal examinations made no difference to Year 10, they probably helped improve them!

3. Commonwealth Games, Sport and Glasgow.
We often watch cycling and went to see the UK national road race championships as they weren’t too far away this year. We also went to see the last stage of the Tour of Britain in London, as the stage that came to Bristol finished to early in the afternoon to see it live after work. The Commonwealth Games were a great experience, we saw weightlifting, boxing (I have never see live boxing before), hockey, team triathlon and the marathon. It was a great few days, and we were able to catch a lot of it on TV when we weren’t watching it live. We also really loved Glasgow and had a one day visit during October half term. I really wanted to go back and see the world championship gymnastics next October, but it sold out before I could afford it. All of this sort of makes up for not being able to get to the start of the Tour de France (but not really). We did catch quite a bit of the world cup on the TV, and I loved the winter Olympics and Paralympics.

4. ICT - 1
I really missed the laptop that broke on me in the summer of 2013, and I bought myself a macbook air in January. I wanted to add this to the list because buying a laptop was one of my nurture13/14 aims for 2014. In June I found it necessary to replace my original iPad and I know have an iPad mini on contract when the school asked the girls to each bring an iPad. It continues to be a bug bear of mine that ICT is so vital now to my work, yet it isn’t something acknowledged by schools or government. At school the ICT is not suitable to someone who works in many different locations. I use my laptop all the time, but have to log on to the school server to print and use the MIS as it is internet explorer only. 

5. ICT - 2
In the summer I was really excited by the prospect of the 1-2-1 iPad scheme at school. It seemed extremely timely as I was invited to an event in Bristol about creating video and helping students to create video. It was a light bulb moment and has impacted my practice during the past term. I really feel that I am making massive strides in being able to use the iPads to help learning. Apps such as explain everything, nearpod, iDoceo, quizlet, socrative, keynote, dropbox, evernote, iDraw and iMovie have been extremely useful. The girls at school recognise me as having a strong grasp of ICT and how to use it, which probably means I am above average. Since the summer I have had a good think about what a 1-2-1 iPad scheme really means, and I hope to help guide the school. I have thank my use of twitter and those who connect to share their vast knowledge who have given me the expertise and confidence to embrace the 1-2-1 iPad scheme. 

6. ASE
I continue to be involved in the ASE, and started my final year as an assembly member this September. I am incredibly proud of the conference we put on in November as a region. The most important thing is that our new CEO seems to have a good handle on ASE finances and where ASE fits in the big scheme of things. Hopefully all of this will mean that ASE can do more to support science teachers and science teaching in the UK and further afield. It is interesting that strong subject knowledge has come out as being very important in the effectiveness in teaching. I think this makes part of the case for the presence of subject associations. I wish I had more time to devote to ASE projects.

7. Curriculum Change 
Deciding what to do about the key stage 3 curriculum changes was a big part of my 2014. We are following OUP’s activate scheme and so far we are really pleased with it. I am able to follow it without that much alteration, which means the most to me. If I spend money on a scheme of work I expect it to save the same amount of time. I am really excited though by the online aspect of the activate scheme, once the fibre optic broadband is installed at school it should be much easier for the students to use and we can really get to grips with assessment.

8. Trips
This year I took the majority of the school to the Big Bang Fair. I took ten Year 11 students to Krispie Kreme Donut Factory. I took Year 7 to the Super-league Netball. It is so time consuming to organise trips, even those that are in the evening, however I am planning to repeat the Krispie Kreme and Netball trips in 2015. The Big Bang Fair I will do again, but probably not until 2016 or 2017 depending on the location. These were all in an attempt to get STEM on a stronger footing within the school, I have more to do on this in 2015. 

9. Conferences/Events/Festivals
My year always starts with the ASE conference, which as always was fun and informative as ever. It was extremely useful starting point on my work on the KS3 curriculum changes. I also went to Pedagoo South West, Research Ed West MidlandsResearchEd, the Festival of Education the tweet up at York University in the summer and an event on creating and using video by Teachit. I have hear Jon Butterworth, Alice Roberts (twice) and Ian Stewart all speak. I also helped to organise our own ASE regional event at Bath Spa University in November. For the second year we went to the Cheltenham Science Festival and had another great day and we went to the cycle show at the NEC. 

10. My Kindle
This time last year I wrote that I had read 31 books on my kindle, this year I have 76, so I have read a lot more books. Although probably not more words as last year I read the ‘song of ice and fire’ books and this year I haven’t read anything as nearly as long. Although next year I think I will read the “wheel of time’ series. I LOVE my kindle, it is an opportunity to escape from teaching and make my mind think of other things.  

11. Discoid Eczema  
I have really failed to look after my skin this year. At the start of the year my eczema meant that I could hardly bend my fingers. If I didn’t go home to reapply the emollients then I wanted to itch my legs all night and my back is often red, itchy mess as I can’t see it to know when it needs extra treatment. I don’t want to use the steroids all the time, but at the moment it seems that I can’t avoid them. It has really been a big feature of my year as it has made my life so uncomfortable and it is such a pain that I can’t use soap of any kind.

12. Step-daughter
We continue to be delighted with the progress of Richard’s daughter. She started Year 10 this year and seems to be thriving. She informs us that she had the joint best report in the whole of her year, (with her two friends). At the moment she wants to go to Cambridge to study Linguistics. Although she is considering St Andrews. I bought her a book of short essays on the subject of linguistics, which she read in a week and it is being passed around her friends apparently. We are so relived that she is interested in things and making her own mind up about everything including her social life (a Eurovision party where she designed a menu based on foods from around Europe).

13. Last years resolutions
Err, not so good. The house still remains undecorated, my hair has an increasing number of grey streaks and I am not yet 9st 7lbs. I didn’t go the arboretum enough and I can’t describe myself as organised. Although I did get a laptop, Year 13 did well, went on the trips and we enjoyed the commonwealth games. 

14. Being Opinionated
My blogs on the Royal Society Vision and on the new arrangements for the assessment of practical work have got me noticed. A blog post on the financial commitment a teacher makes also got retweeted by the Guardian and viewed many times. I have been interviewed over the telephone for various things too. I do find myself quite negative and miserable, though. Although being asked to present to the governors at the end of the summer term was a great opportunity to be positive about all the things that we did as a department. I got a hug from the deputy head, so I must have been good. 
It is always a surprise when people want to hear what I have got to say, I hope that I represent science education in someway as I anticipate others face the same struggles. Although mainly I just want to represent myself. 

Aims for 2015

1. Writing with purpose
My blog needs more attention and direction. I would like it to show what I feel and my vision and I don’t believe that it does. I have strong feelings about things and I want to be able to describe them in a rational way. 

2. At home
We only have one plan for the this year - getting Richard qualified and ready for Paris-Brest-Paris in the summer. It really is the culmination of ten years of cycling so that he is ready for this challenge. My main hope is that some of his colleagues recognise the achievement, it will mean so much to him. I doubt it though. We did say that we would take Richard’s daughter to Oxford to see the city and to go to the Imperial War Museum as we haven’t been for a while. When Richard is out cycling I want to work on things around the house and get over my fear of gardening. 

3. Bringing a conference/an event to Westonbirt
The head has seen me help organise activities outside of school and has invited me to replicate this in school. We certainly have the space. I need to think about this in order to bring together something valuable. It is a real compliment to be trusted with this. 

4. More curriculum change
The next task at school is to embed the changes to KS3 and do more to look forward to the changes at KS5. I think that the department will need some help to develop the idea of a lab book as will the students. The changes at GCSE concern me greatly, I don’t think that the specifications will be ready towards the end of 2015, again giving teachers and publishers less and less time to prepare a good scheme of work. 

5. What is next?
I love my school and working there. But I also feel the pull of a new challenge. I don’t know what that is yet and I fully expect to see myself working at Westonbirt in a year’s time, partly because I want to see through the curriculum changes and develop my use of 1-2-1 devices in the classroom and partly because it is a fabulous school and I believe in what we do. But I need to prepare myself for what is next. Would I get an assistant head position from where I am? Do I want one or do I want to stay more closely tied to science education? Would being an assistant head affect that? Am I good enough? Do I want to stay as a teacher?
But I also think that to look to the future I also need to consolidate. Think about what we/I/the department do really well and make the most of those things. Ensure they stand out as excellent and don't get lost amongst all the change. 

Monday, 15 December 2014

GCSE without any practical assessment

I feel like a massive hypocrite. I wasn't unhappy about the introduction of the idea of 12 core practical skills into A-level that would only be assessed as pass/fail. I thought that it would allow more freedom to teachers regarding practical work. Although I qualify that, as I did also say that really it would have been better to go back to the free practical project that we had pre-2008. It was the change to controlled assessment that killed practical in A-level.

If I was a university I would want to see the log book of the student, I would insist that the student 'pass' the practical part to get in. (What about a student who doesn't pass, but gets an A? I would want to know why, poor teaching, illness extreme lack of organisation or laziness or maybe an impairment of the student or teacher absence. I think this situation would be rare). The pass/fail and log book of the practical work could actually help keep teachers honest about the experiences of the students. As I say particularly if universities may ask to see it.

I also reckon that if a student can answer an A-level question working out how to calculate the emf induced across an aeroplane wing or workout whether a circuit with a particular capacitor could crate a vibration quickly enough to produce a sound of a certain pitch, then they can probably read a thermometer, use a stop watch and even a micrometer and oscilloscope.

However, things are different at GCSE. At GCSE it isn't (always) about the child, the headline figures are more important. Assessment drives teaching and floor targets drive teachers to the limit. Why are teachers going to bust a  gut sorting the practical investigation skills of GCSE students when it doesn't make any contribution to the final grade? If we were gaming the system before then we sure as hell will be now.

Example tasks from A-level physics "Use a stop watch or light gate for timing", "Correctly construct circuits from circuit diagrams". Firstly, how many schools have enough equipment for everyone to be able to do this independently? If anyone at Ofqual (or anywhere else) thinks that this is suddenly going to make heads who are cutting back on staff and fixing holes in roofs to increase the science department capitation they are living in cloud cuckoo land. So how can even the most honest of teachers realistically say that a student can construct a circuit when it is likely they will work in pairs? What about those two students who have messed around during the lesson and clipped crocodile clips onto each others blazers? What about the under pressure NQT who can't get a class to be quiet to explain what to do? What about the student who is off and misses a practical? What about the students who ask 'what is the point of this'? 'will anyone care if I fail'? (Only the deputy head). What about the student who has to work with the weaker student and therefore does all the work? What about the student who copies the person they are working with? What about the students who point blank refuses?

More over what about the student who takes another piece of work to 'copy up'? What about the lost lab books? What about the teacher who fills folders with blank pieces of paper and claims they have done what they should have (Yes, I have come across this teacher), what about the teacher who is really struggling with workload and struggling to be organised? What happens when a teacher falls ill? What happens to the class that has the list of supply teachers? What happens when the technician fails to supply the right chemicals so the experiment does not work? What happens when the department runs out of money and can't afford to do a particular practical? What happens when teacher illness means there is restricted time for practical? How will the head of department track all the work? Will it be possible to mark this work formatively and allow students a second chance - it doesn't sound that way at A-level.

Are schools really going to take it seriously when in reality no one is checking? Can-do tasks anyone? I know from examiners that students got 24/24 in can-do tasks and 0 for science in the news, how likely is that really?

The current system doesn't create that same level of issues if classes are shared. The controlled assessment is a team effort, it does not need to fall entirely on the shoulders of one member of staff unless it is designed that way (Triple science). To my my mind the new suggestion adds to work load with no added benefit for students. One year GCSE courses mean that all the core science coursework has to be completed at the end of year 10, it is less likely to walk.

I really think that the administrative burden of controlled assessment and lab books needs to be considered.

However, I am not advocating that we keep the controlled assessment. And unlike A-levels I am not even suggesting that we return to the circumstances of the previous specification. That had massive issues too. It all did. Encouraging a wider range of practical activities is a good thing, although I do wonder if there really will be a wider range of practical activities or if resistance of a wire and sodium thiosulphate will once again be the staple of all science investigations.

I would suggest one of two things. Either we scrap the idea of assessing the practical aspect of practical work, or we accept that students can get a high score in it.

To understand the next part you have to realise that the GCSE specification that I follow has statements divided into low, medium and high demand.

I went to a session run by the examiner for the controlled assessment of our GCSE, He talked about areas that he would expect students to score highly in, risk assessment and drawing tables for example. I would agree with him - some areas are easier than others. In exam some questions are easier than others - you only need to read the examiners report to see the questions described by how many students were able to answer them.

Why can't it be the case that students do better in areas of practical work than aspect of the exam. There is a lot more to remember for the exam and you complete the exam in one go. Students can have their controlled assessment broken down skill by skill to ensure they are comfortable with it. I know what is in the controlled assessment, I can teach to the test so to speak. We can do similar practicals before hand and I have certainly developed teaching activities that train my students to automatically hit 5/8 sections within the controlled assessment with ease.

Why can't practical work be low demand work? Why does the spread of marks have to be the same as an exam - it isn't the same thing.

This is especially true now that we have terminal examinations. Students don't need to get a grade or UMS score for each exam/module. Totals can be considered instead. These totals can then be spread over the percentage of each grade ofqual decide they want to give out.

So what does this mean would I do? I would have a number of experiments (15, 18, 21 as it can be divided by 3!) and from that students would submit 9 tables of results or simple observations/conclusions. From them the teacher would judge the level of competence with the equipment given, the score would be 1, 2, or 3 depending on the quality of the results and the experiment.

The UMS marks of this would contribute 10% - why 10%? Because that would be a grade, it could not be ignored, yet it would not make that much difference overall.

I would still include references to experiments in the exam, thereby making it necessary to complete all the experiments. Or at least, to make a persuasive case to management for practical equipment. I actually think that it would be possible to complete an exam on practical work without ever doing the practical work. I think that there is evidence to back this up - schools used to give the back up data to who cohorts in the 2006 specifications and students would still do alright in their controlled assessments.

We need to decide if practical work is important to science in the UK. And we need to do it urgently. If we think that it is then we need to think about the way that our accountability system, how our financing of practical work and how our pedagogical approaches support it.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Review of Activate Scheme of Work

I have been meaning to review Activate for some time now. I felt like it was a big leap of faith to buy into the scheme and I wasn't entirely sure I was doing the right thing. At first glance he scheme seemed very worksheet heavy, I was disappointed that the presentations are online and in a form that I cannot edit easily and the scheme seems to go at a tremendous pace. However, I am very pleased I did choose it.

So far we have taught cells, particles and forces.

I have taught almost every lesson as per the scheme work. I have used the presentations and been happy with them. I have used the worksheets and found them well thought out and constructed - although 3 worksheets for one experiment does always seem excessive and my students' books are getting fat. My technician doesn't seem to have any issues with the teacher/technician notes.

Some of the activities are imaginative and the questions make the students think. I am pleased with the way the scheme has developed the graphing skills of the students, giving scaffold and slowing removing it part by part. It was useful to help me assess the level of my students without over complicating things in the first place.

I have watched two videos that are made for the scheme and I think they are really good. I like the way they sum up what they are trying to get across at the end of the clip. They are short and to the point, which I like too.

I have used the online tests with my students and there are mixed reviews from the girls. They have had a bad experience with Geography not working well so are not so keen to do all the tests I set for Science. The tests are hard, however they do help to focus the learning of the girls onto the key points and highlight correct use of vocabulary. They also cover all areas, so I am finding it important to closely cover the scheme of work so that the girls can access the tests.

The girls are not using their access to the online textbook as much as I would like. I don't use textbooks much, so it is probably my influence. The internet connection at school isn't great so the slowness of the response also means that we don't use the online book. However, I do think it is preferable to them carrying a big textbook around and when BT do (eventually) connect the fibre optic cable - maybe that should be 'if' - I think that we will start to use the book more. What I do find disappointing is that the resources for each lesson/double page spread are not associated easily with the corresponding page of the textbook. This means that students can't easily find the presentation to follow on their own device. They have to search through menus of resources. I think this is something OUP should work on. I would love for the girls to be able to do some of the interactive tasks themselves rather than wait their turn to use the computer.

The proof will be in the understanding the girls have when they reach GCSE. I want more students to be confident and want to choose triple science. Even after two and a bit years I have not managed to crack this. Perhaps I never will, but it is an aspiration.

I should add as a note that I was observed teaching one of the lessons, and I stuck to the scheme of work. I was able to get it to fit to the 5Es without any struggle and the Head was very happy with the lesson. (Outstanding).

I look forward to continuing with the scheme and developing its use within the department.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Conferences on a Saturday

On Saturday 15th November the ASE West committee (I am the chair) ran their half-day science conference at Bath Spa University.

An excellent conference, if I do say so myself. I am proud that we held it on a Saturday and I proud that we were able to make it free to members and only £10 to everyone else.

Around the same time OldAndrew was having an outburst about Wellington College moving their Festival of Education wholly into the week. I can see both sides of the argument.

From Wellington College's point of view I know that it is easier to get speakers and attendance is higher during the week. Despite what Andrew and others might feel there are a lot of teachers out there who will not give up their own time for conferences and other CPD. A lot. The ASE conference is not well as attended when it falls in the holidays from time to time, for example.

However, we need events to be held on Saturdays and in holidays.

If you are restricted in the CPD you can have access to at school then you need another avenue. I have certainly been in this situation. SLT favourites able to go to courses and feedback at Thursday evening sessions you have the 'option' to attend. In house CPD thought to be all you need, because it is important to stick to the ethos of the academy, which is sufficient apparently. I don't want my CPD to be restricted by an agenda that I am not consulted on.

I don't really have the answer though. If the motivation is to reach more people and therefore earn more money then the needs of those teachers who want to search for their own CPD in their own time, with their own money, are not a priority.

To teachers: if you are reading this and thinking "I won't be allowed to go, it is during a school day", ASK. Ask and you might be surprised. I have been and continue to be. I have been able to go to the ASE conference for the last three years and I am going again this year. But if I had not asked then no one was going to offer.

To conference organisers: please do consider those of us who are coming to your event independent of our school What we gain will be fed back into the system and the fact that we came at the weekend probably makes it more valuable to us. If you can afford it please think about your potential audience, their budget, location and time.

To Andrew: sorry, I won't be signing your petition Wellington College have a point if their intention is to have more visitors.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

What Does an ICT Savvy Student Look Like?

I need to start thinking about where I am going regarding the use of ICT in my classroom and not just about solving the issues in front of me. Within science education I feel that I have moral purpose and understand the place of my subject within the curriculum. But what about the other parts of my job; the pastoral side and (prominent for me at the moment) the ICT side.

As I have said before our school have asked the students to each bring their own iPad to school. There are a few students who haven't, but they usually do have devices of some sort. As predicted by a lot of the articles about BYOD that I have read there is some issues over the level of use of the devices within lesson. I agree that as a parent I would be concerned if my child had a £400 device and was not using it effectively. But what does using it effectively mean?

When the scheme was first announced by the chair of governors at a speech day he spoke about 'skills for life'. Our Saturday lesson programme has been transformed for key stage 3 into PHSE lesson taught by the pastoral staff in the hope it will give them skills and knowledge for life. The iPad 1-2-1 scheme is also supposed to give the students the 'skills for life' in an increasingly technological world.

I actually like this idea better than introducing iPads to improve learning. I read all the time that there is no evidence that ICT will make much different to the learning. For many members of staff incorporating ICT into lessons is going to be a stretch. On top of all the curriculum change embracing new technologies and creating the resources to go with them is going to be a lot to ask.

For me technology is a great way to keep myself organised and I hope that the students will pick this up too.

So what does a tech savvy student look like?

I did some research about the use of ICT in business. The vast majority seem have stories about the transformation of their business by being able to reach customers better. The others seem to say that by designing an app helped communication within the company. That didn't seem to apply to the students.

Instead I wrote the following aims: students live in an increasingly technological world, where businesses, organisations and individuals are using advances in ICT to communicate, collaborate and organise. Students need to be aware of the benefits and risks of this as well ash the practicalities of using technology.

In no particular order, a 'technologically advanced student' will be:

  • using RSS feeds, twitter, social networking apps, instapaper, read later, to collate potentially useful information and resources for later use. They may even do this in collaboration with others
  • accessing alternative forms of media such as podcasts, video and blogs. They will probably do this in short chunks. This may be related to work, but also related to the interests of the students.
  • sharing, communicating and collaborating on work projects over distance and time using electronic devices. This may be communicating with other students, but also will be communicating with teachers.
  • organising time, resources and work using shared calendars, email and folders that sync across several devices and maybe shared with many others.
  • able to manage their workflow
  • aware of their own digital footprint and act according when using social media.
  • able to produce a range of media to be consumed inside and outside school. This maybe in conjunction with school work, charity work, social work or to raise awareness of an issue. This will involve blogging, video, podcasts, documents, images, infographics, websites, GIFs, and presentations. 
  • supporting others in their use of electronic devices.

They may go further and:

  • produce their own app
  • learn how to code
  • investigate computer networking
  • build their own computer
  • use ICT in another enterprising way

I would admit that it isn't necessary for students to be able to do all of these things for their learning, or even their life. But I do think that it is important that students are aware of all the implications and ways that ICT can be used.

The next steps are working out how we get there? Do we use technology for learning? Should we be restrictive and prescriptive about the way that technology is used in lessons? What about outside lessons and in extra curricular activities? Will practice change as a result of technology and what will the behaviour of our students in lessons look like? How will these changes impact on their employability? Is it even possible?

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Nicky Morgan and Workload

In this article it is stated that Nicky Morgan wants teachers to spend more time teaching and less time on paper work.

This statement scares me.

What I want is to spend less time teaching so I can spend more time preparing and marking. I don't do any unnecessary paperwork, I can't remember a time when I did.

I need schemes of work. I need time to prepare the 7 years of new ones that will be coming in within the next three years. I need to time to ensure we are properly risk assessed for each of these - unnecessary paper work?  I need time to set up the new trackers for the new assessment that will come with the new changes. I need time to work on the appraisal of staff that has become more important now that it is linked to pay and all that entails. I need to complete forms about students with statements, I need to give information about students who are applying for access arrangements. I need to give information for UCAS references. I need to fill in written lesson requests. I want to complete a planner and mark book. I want to complete a review of the exam results and I feel I should have a plan of action for the year to work from.

I want to teach less. I enjoy teaching, I enjoy standing in front of my class. I enjoy talking to them about their learning. But I enjoy it more when I am properly prepared. I enjoy it more when I can think and speak because I am not surviving on 5 hours sleep per night. I enjoy it more when I know the tasks I have prepared are meaningful and not just being used because they are all I have. I don't want to have to tailor my lesson to a CGP sheet just because its the only resource I have with the time available. I want to have the time to adapt my resources given what I know about my students' learning from the previous lesson.

Teaching is exhausting. Teaching when you are under prepared is stressful and exhausting.

If Nicky Morgan thinks that the answer is Pearson Co writing schemes of work we can all buy into she couldn't be more wrong. I estimate it will cost £250 per year group per GCSE subject and £300 per year group per A-level subject to buy into the subscriptions for schemes of work. Somewhere in the region of £20,000 per year on schemes of work that aren't actually very useful. Even with online testing it doesn't take away from the fact that the teacher still has to mark work and review what the child has done. Open questioning cannot be marked by a computer. Writing of schemes will still have to be done - especially in science, where we need to have thought about the risk assessment for what we are doing in our own context.

I want is for government to consider how they bring in changes to the curriculum. Does it all need to be thrown up into the air? Can it be changed in small chunks where need is identified? This would mean a couple of lessons could be rewritten and resourced rather than 7 years worth of teaching in the space of three?

But I also want is for government to consider the length of PPA time. How many hours should I teacher be working in a week? How long should it take to plan a lesson, and how long should it take to mark work? Input all of this and workout how many hours per week a teacher should teach for.

Something like, if you teach a class for two hours per week it probably takes a hour to mark their books, and another 40 minutes to plan the lessons. (If you already have a great scheme of work). Add to that 50 minutes per week spent in staff briefing, one hour spent in a staff meeting, 40 minutes per week spent on break time duty and hour doing a club after school, with 30 minutes preparing it, and 25 minutes per day of registration. This means we are looking at 6 hours per week unavailable to teaching. If we are to work 40 hours per week 34 is available to teaching and preparing for teaching. By my calculation 55% if that time should be in front of a class, which is 18.5 hours.

This leaves no room for dealing with any pastoral or staff related issues. No time for referencing, exam entries, carers advice, coaching a fellow teacher, CPD, peer observations, report writing, replying to emails from parents, organising rooms for open evening, parents evenings, concerts and plays, organising a tutor group assembly, organising trips and talks.

Currently teachers will teach around 22 hours per week. If Nicky Morgan was able to reduce this to 18 hours per week I believe it would make a positive impact on teacher workload.

I can't see it happening though. At the moment an 8 form entry Year 7 group would require 200 hours of teaching per week, which would be 9.09 teachers. Teaching 18 hours per week would be 11.1 1 teachers per week. So £40k per year extra just for Year 7. Multiply that up through 7 year groups and it would be 14 extra teachers. We're looking in the region of £300k per school. Any head got that to spare in their budget? Thought not.

Ah well, Nicky Morgan can expect stressed and tired teachers to complain for a while yet.

Sunday, 28 September 2014


I was recommended Nearpod by a colleague at school who's daughter had suggested it to her. I love it and I think my students really like it too. Or at least the ones that I have used it with. When we get fibre optic broadband installed I will use it with all my classes

It is an app for tablets, but it also works on chrome or safari on a laptop.

What is it?

It is an app and website that allows you to send your presentation to the students' devices. You give them a code and they enter it to find your presentation.

So what?

That's not all, you can add interactive slides where students feedback to you. If you subscribe (and pay) for the premium version you can link to external websites too. For me this is the real power. I explain something to the group and immediately they answer a question that helps me to understand how well they grasped it. I can change my teaching then and there.

For example, I gave a demo of a longitudinal wave then the group copied notes from a slide on nearpod about longitudinal waves. They then answered the question 'what is a longitudinal wave?'. Most of the answers said 'a wave that vibrates backwards and forwards'. True, but not specific enough for GCSE level. I can go back and ask questions about how to improve the answer. I can even then share an example of answer (anonymously) that I have received from the class.

I had a student come in late to a lesson. I whizzed through the nearpod slides she missed at the end of the lesson and she took screen shots to copy up later.

A lot of students struggle copying notes from the board. Having the presentation next to them will help this process. Being able to take screenshots instead of copying will also help. (Although I feel the revision guide is good enough notes, I want my students thinking in lessons instead of mindlessly writing. My students don't agree).

Any drawbacks?

At the moment nearpod isn't working as well as I would like. The adsl internet and the number of switches between my room and the backbone means that there can be quite a lag between me forwarding the slide and it registering on the iPads. Without enthusiastic students I can see the lessons being difficult.

I can't measure the impact, but for me it means less paper and the potential of better transitions. In homework mode (£££) it could encourage independent work and flipped learning. I am excited.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, 15 September 2014

Practical work in A-level

I haven't quite taught two full weeks of classes yet, due to INSET and start of year timetable giving out mornings etc. However, I am already thinking ahead to next September and what I will do differently at A-level.

My first year 12 lesson involved using a micrometer and measuring small stuff. We wrote down our measurements on scrap paper as, while using a micrometer is an interesting step forward, the measurements are not needed for future reference. What if I need those measurements next year, how will I get students to record them?

In today's lesson we looked at density (using Archimedes buckets to measure volume - badly) and the impact of upthrust on the value on a Newton meter. We calibrated the Newton meters first. Again, I wrote the measurements on the board and we compared the different values. Realising the volume was the factor affecting up thrust.

In year 13's lesson last Tuesday we spent an hour experimenting using the air track writing the minimum down to calculate change in momentum and seeing how far our conservation of momentum calculations were out. The girls levelled the track, learned to use the timers, set up the light gates and evaluated the issues with the track. Next time year we will need to record it as evidence.

Although I am using practical work to illustrated scientific concepts and help the students see how they are arrived at, the work they write does not illustrate this.

I am going to have to change my approach in September 2015. My first step will be selecting a revision guide I can trust. I won't be writing notes for exam work. I will incorporate reference to revision guides into my lessons, these will be the notes. I will buy transparent post-it notes or some such to help the students annotate their work.

I would like to have a practical write ups in a note book and any practice questions in a file. But what will the practical write ups look like? I have never taught it at a-level, and I don't believe I was taught it myself.

I know everyone else is in the same position. But today's lesson made me reflect. I need to carefully think about how my approach to practical works needs to adapt and change this year to ensure my students get the 'pass' mark they need in a-level physics experimentation.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Tetbury,United Kingdom

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Research Ed 2014 - a few observations and hopes

I am writing this on the train on the way back from the second national research ed conference.

As I read through the twitter feed I realise that I am not alone in very much enjoying the day and finding it worthwhile.

I remember exchanging a couple of tweets with Hélène after the West Midlands conference about the direction that research ed would take. She didn't give much away, but I felt today that the movement took a massive step. At the previous events I felt I was bombarded with 'teachers must engage with research, but watch out for snake oil'. Telling this message to a few hundred teachers is not enough to make it a reality, the barriers to engaging with valid research are difficult to surmount. However, today I have felt that Research Ed is developing into something that can help bridge the gap. Tom Bennett is right about the momentum building and it is good news that he will be able to work on Research Ed more next year.

It was great to hear from Hilary Leevers from the Wellcome Trust who spoke about the great work Wellcome do in supporting science education. One of the comments she made was about how Wellcome would like to use research Ed as one method for spreading word of their research to real classroom teachers. To be able to interface with Hilary and her team at such events could be really valuable to schools. The EEF are engaging with Research Ed and I hope other organisations will too.

My day started with the talk from John Tomsett, Alex Quigley and Rob Coe about the development of the role of research leads in school. I hope Research Ed can help those research leads make links and contacts as well as informing those of us outside of the project of its progress.

I loved Dylan Wiliam's presentation, extremely engaging. However, it also helped me understand the limitations of research and particularly transferring research to other contexts. This was extremely useful. I am interested to read blogs and perhaps watch video from other sessions with the loose theme of interpreting research.

The session with the most laughs was Bob Harrison's. A useful whistle stop tour through research into the impact of educational technology. Again it highlighted issues related to research and of policy.

I wanted to see Paul Black speak, but the room was too full. So I went to see Jonathan Simons from policy exchange. It was a useful insight into the limitations of government and why policy isn't more thoughtful. I imagine Jonathan was trying to be hopeful when he said we can influence policy though social media towards the end of his talk, for me it was scary.

I know there were other sessions about the media and personal appearances by politicians. This is a useful insight for teachers and I think knowing about what goes on can only be a positive thing, helping the profession reflect on what it can do to limit damage by outside influences, whilst also striving to solve issues within education.

Mary Whitehouse and Carol Davenport's sessions were the type of thing I was interested in. I want to go to sessions where I can find out about research work that others are doing and reflect on how it impacts me. The diagnostic questions that York Science are working on are valuable to me and the gender imbalance research is both fascinating and disturbing. I hope that researchers will continue to use research Ed as a vehicle for sharing their ideas.

An extremely positive day. And although I don't have masses and masses to take back to school on Monday, I have had a glimpse of the future of the way that teachers might better understand and link with research.

I hope Ann Mroz doesn't feel the need to add too much red pen to this blog post.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Rodbourne Road,Swindon,United Kingdom

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Using QR codes

I first heard about QR codes in 2010. In January 2011 I went to a micro-presentation about them from a lecturer who was using them with his students at university. He explained what they were and a bit about the history. Back then I filed the information away as interesting, but not relevant to me, yet.

Now we are teaching a class that all have iPads, with the possibility of a QR code reader app on them it is possible to start utilising QR codes. The main advantage that I can see is sending students to specific web addresses. Particularly when they are long like the one below.

To get to this BBC bitesize link I would normally put a long list of instructions and things to click on. A QR code allows students to scan it and go straight there.

There are numerous QR code readers in the App Store. I have always used a free one. They usually allow you to both read and create QR codes.

Once you have made a QR code it isn't easy to recognise what it is linking to. However, the app you use to create the QR code will save them. Alternatively, using an app like 'Over' or 'Skitch' or by inputting them to a word document you can add text to them to describe what they do.

Potential uses for QR codes include adding them to displays so students can find extra information. Printing them on the front of exam practice papers with a link to the mark scheme and/or examiners report. Including them on worksheets with links to websites and videos students can find extra information and support. Anywhere a link would be useful.

QR Codes can also include some text, so it is possible to use it to share answers, information or instructions.

Further reading:

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Friday, 22 August 2014

Making Groups

I saw this tweet and thought of another activity specific to science teaching that I got from a former colleague who used a similar idea to put students into groups.

She printed out stickers or cards in a set. The set contained the name of a piece of equipment, a scientific drawing of the equipment and a photograph of the piece of equipment. She explain to the students the group should contain a name, a diagram and a photograph and then let the class organise themselves into groups.

An alternative for pairs would be a diagram and photograph.

This can help to organise random groups for the first few lessons while you get to know the students.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Multiple Choice Questions

Using technology gives us the opportunity to make life a little easier. Although there will be some preparation involved, multiple choice questioning is one of those areas. this blog post has convinced me that there could be advantages to regular testing of students.

It is possible to get students to complete multiple choice tests using technology that easily tracks the answers the students give. There are a number of ways of doing this.

These sites and applications that have been recommended to me, having been used with success by colleagues. Each one has different attributes.

Plickers is useful as the multiple choice question is not input to the software and therefore it is possible to use existing resources. Students are allocated a numbered card, which they hold up in a particular orientation depending on their answer, their responses can be immediately read using an app on your phone. The app saves the responses.

Quick Key reads multiple choice responses using a phone too. Students fill in a sheet you download from the site with their A-D responses. Allowing the app to do the marking means quizzes can be marked almost instantly.

Flubaroo carries out analysis on questions and grades tests for quizzes completed using google forms.

Socrative requires students to have a device, but they don't need a log on. However, using socrative codes it is possible to use quizzes other people have written, and this would save time. It isn't necessary to set up classes as the students add their names when they compete tests. Socrative tests can be printed out, and it is possible to type them on an excel template and upload, which is quicker than using the app.

All four methods allow responses to be saved. Having the data to hand allows the progression of students to be tracked, giving an indication of strong and weak topic areas, and therefore gives a starting point for intervention, reports and parents evening discussions. This blog post Austin Booth explains how he uses a spreadsheet to track the attainment of students in the topics he has taught.

Writing multiple choice questions isn't always easy. There is some advice here: , examiners reports can give some ideas for incorrect answers and it is also possible to find more online via a search.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

York Tweet Up 2014

Yesterday was the third #YorkTU, hosted by Mary Whitehouse at University of York.

During the day we had numerous presentations by a range of people involved in science education. I particularly enjoyed the opportunity to ask questions after the presentations.

For me there were two powerful things about the day. Firstly there were no expectations of outcome from the day. What you take away from the event and put into practice is entirely down to you. And secondly there are some very reflective practitioners out there who are taking on board external ideas and using them to help them make an impact.

For a few the starting point of a talk was 'We are in this position, but we are doing this to turn the situation into a positive and useful experience for students and staff'. The choices and resultant practices of science teacher colleagues are deliberate and with purpose.

Alongside the ideas that can be used back at school is the opportunity to talk to people with knowledge of the current curriculum changes and development.

I don't know why this type of event needs to happen independent of the knowledge of schools and school management, but for me this is when the best sharing happens and I am at my most reflective.

I found the presentations of Austin Booth and Rebecca Walsh powerful. They have used spreadsheets that 'RAG' the confidence of students in specification areas. I am certainly considering how we might use this to help students and teachers identify strengths and weaknesses. I feel that for students who benefited from seeing the BTEC tracker to motivate them, this is a possible useful approach to GCSE, and this applies to the disappearance of modules too.

I also enjoyed Katy Bloom's presentation about her research into feedback. I was interested to see that her research backs up the finding of other studies. (Sometimes I wonder if research is transferable). It was also interesting to see that students only recognise written feedback as feedback.

Richard Needham's presentation highlighting the increased numeracy demand was also of great interest. I just feel that I am coming to terms with literacy within my teaching, but now need to properly address numeracy. 'We already do that via equations triangles and drawing graphs' isn't quite going to cut it! This is something I need to put into my plans for the coming year.

Lastly, I need to raise again the great resources on the STEM elibrary and commend them to all science teachers.

Thank you to Mary and the UYSEG team for hosting, and to all the presenters who raised my morale and inspired me to be that bit more reflective.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, 15 August 2014

Socrative Quizzes

I want to use socrative to capture student's progress at the end of a lesson. So I have made a few short quizzes and will make some more.

If you would like to take a look at the first ones that I have done then the codes are below.

P1c A spectrum of waves (features of transverse waves and wave equation):12371027

P3a Speed (distance-time graphs): 12195705

P3b Changing Speed (speed-time graphs): 12198553

You can then import my quizzes. I hope there are minimal mistakes, but do let me know if you find a problem.

I think that it will be quicker to use the excel template to import questions and answers as it doesn't involve quite so much clicking.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Transition between QCA and Activate

Since 2000 my school has followed the QCA schemes of work. Even in 2008 when the change in the curriculum allowed science departments to be more creative we stuck with the QCA units. (Which I think was a wise decision).

However, now we need to transition to the new national curriculum.

Ultimately the plan is to teach the following activate units at Key Stage 3:

Click for the google doc.

However, we have taught the QCA units, so we need to transition for Year 8 from the old scheme into the new one.

Below is the plan for this transition.

We hope that by the end of Year 8 the GCSE curriculum will be developed enough that we will be able to use the time at the end of Year 9 to fill in any gaps that the student may have so they can be prepared well for GCSE.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Reading Blogs and Saving Articles (Feedly and Pocket)

I want to recommend two apps not usually promoted in list of apps for teachers and teaching. The first is Feedly.

I really enjoy reading blog posts. There are many people out there sharing resources, ideas and opinions. Blogs like from Amjad Ali for activities or for opinions from David Didau. Feedly is an RSS reader that will pick up blog posts from your saved blogs and show the posts from the last 30 days. This means the posts come to you rather than having to check the blog.

However, once something useful has been found then it's useful to have a way to save it for reference later. This is where Pocket comes in.

It is possible to link pocket to twitter. This means it is possible to save links and images from tweets. It can be added to safari to save links too. Or links can be copied and pasted into the app or website.

The advantage off both these apps is they work as a website or app, so you can access your account wherever there is an internet connection. Both have subscription versions, but I have never felt the need to subscribe.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Royal Society Report

I missed the #ASEchat about the Royal Society report about the future of STEM education. I have since taken the time to read the summary of the report and the full version too:

The key recommendations of the report are below. In the full report page 12 has a time line for achieving the vision.

I think that all the points are important.
All young people study mathematics and science up to the age of 18.
Of all the recommendations I believe that this is one of the hardest to implement. I will be interested to see how the demand on the number of maths teachers changes as students have to study maths to 18 if they have no achieved a grade C at GCSE. I would also be interested in knowing how this would impact at GCSE. Science is such a vast knowledge base that I can't see how we could agree on a satisfactory curriculum.

However, I also believe that I am coming at this from the status quo. We should be thinking about what 16-19 education is for. If we can move away from it being a ticket to university only, then there is the opportunity to reassess what and how we teach students post-16.

I am concerned about the number of students who do only one science A-level. Science A-levels are the most common essential or desirable qualifications (after maths) for getting into university and don't only one of them often isn't enough. A rethink of the qualification suite at 16-19 would be welcome.

Curricula and their assessment are stabilised and support excellent teaching and learning.
I can't disagree with this. We have just had a curriculum review that changed very little. Does a change in the assessment require a change in the specification? Do we need to have a big swap round every 4-6 years or can we have incremental changes where they are necessary?

In the future more knowledge will be accessible from the web through subscriptions to publishers resources. Incremental changes and resources that keep pace would justify the subscription format. Although I don't mean to justify this practice by having constant change.

The recommendation includes setting up an expert body to oversee the curriculum. I would welcome this. It is important that we include people who have thought carefully about how progression of learning, how the topics will relate to the skills that need to be built and to the knowledge and skills that are needed once the students leave school. I think an expert body is best placed to oversee this. It should be tied to the long-term prosperity of the country and not be a political football.

I can't see this happening though. This government cut the quangos in order to give teachers and schools more autonomy and the DfE more control (that I can see). This kind of body would have to be funded by the government to avoid allegations of bias and I can't see that happening.
Teachers have high professional status and there is a strong supply of science and mathematics specialists.
This is a bit of a circular issue, if we don't have good teachers, then we probably won't have a supply of them as young people won't be enthused by the subject areas. I want to see support for existing teachers and better professional support.

I and really pleased to see that the Royal Society also included technicians in this area. Effective and knowledgable technicians are vital to high quality science teaching. Their knowledge and organisation support science teachers and boost their CPD.

The other comment that interests me under this heading the summary of the report is that subject-specific professional development should be a requirement. I feel that the SLC (in their own interests I grant you) have put forward a strong case for this. However, professional development is more than just going on a course and I hope that the engagement of teachers in their own development and reflection on their practices continues to grow. I see this happening, however it still needs to be formalised and linked to evidence and research into impact.

This is an area that the government need to think carefully about. What does a career path for a teacher look like and does it represent the best possible way to ensuring that there are the best possible teachers in the classroom. I think the current system promotes leadership and school based issues over subject specialists and those who want to spend time in the classroom.

Students understand the significance of STEM through better careers awareness and guidance.
This is an area that I feel that I am weak in. I really have little idea what scientists do beyond go to university and research things. I know that there are companies such as GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca who are very keen to promote good science teaching, I assume because they want scientists... But what does working for them look like, what would you do? It is easy for me to say to students that science is linked to every part of life, but how does that really link to careers?

I would like to see more practical ideas for how this could be accomplished without having resorting to vast amount of work for individual schools and departments that I envisage. It is certainly not an area many schools can prioritise as they need good attendance of students to lessons to help them focus on grades. This means there is less time to visit companies or have outside speakers.

The success of students, teachers and education systems is judged through appropriate and broadly based assessment and accountability measures. 
I see that the Royal Society has a vision where some teachers are trained to become expert assessors. I have heard this idea before and I am coming to like it. I think it is certainly something ofqual (and score) should look at further. We need to be able to bring back teacher assessment as a trusted part of the assessment of science qualifications.

I also like to see that the Royal Society feel that accountability should be more than just exam results. I understand why exam results are so liked, but I have to agree. Perhaps the school's alumni or destinations should be looked at (although I would hate young people to be forced into careers for the sake of league tables), perhaps the engagement students have with the wider community. Perhaps an e-portfolio of the work of students so that progress can be assesses?

I hope that the Royal Society are keeping an eye on the work that the Heads Roundtable (and vice versa) are doing on accountability measures. The aims of the two bodies may be aligned.

Education policy and practice are better informed by evidence.
I agree with this statement, we need to find out what influences students to study STEM and work out what puts them off. I would be interested in finding out how many students have science as their favourite subject in Year 7 and how many of them have maintained that to Year 9 or 11? How then can we change our approach to have an impact on that.

On area that I have been interested in recently is girls being put off physics, seeing it as too masculine and not for them. I am interested to see where the IoP go with this and if they can find a way to have a positive impact on the proportion of girls and boys studying physics.

What is the best way to teach science? Does it depend on the topic? Does practical really help? Can we teach problem solving in science lessons? We are science teachers, we should be able to look to evidence to work out the best way to teach.

It is a really interesting report and I suggest you have a look.

Monday, 21 July 2014


As I have mentioned before. The girls at my school will all be arriving at school in September with iPads in September. I want to make sure that I am utilising them from day one for two reasons. 1) I am interested in seeing how they can impact on my practice and 2) I want to make sure that the iPads are value for money for the families.

I am using explain everything, audio boo, nearpod, iDoceo, QR codes and pinterest. I have had a go at Aurasma and will continue to work on iBooks too, with a view to the new curriculum.

However, another tool I want to utilise is Socrative.

It is a website and app that allows students to answer multiple choice, true & false, and short answer questions.

It is possible to upload an image to the question, which is very useful for science questions. 

In the summer term I trialled this with a few classes using their mobile phones. They did find it hard to find the website and put in the room number to start with and there was some staggering of starts of the quizzes. I would hope to get over this as the students start to get familiar with the site and/or app (if they chose to download it). I also want to look at  using the teacher paced idea to help students keep up and not race ahead. 

I would also suggest that keeping a quiz short will help to reduce the time lag between the fast and slow finishers. I have perhaps made too many questions with 12.

After the quiz it is possible to download the report to see how students have got on. I am interested in doing this and uploading it to evernote and ultimately idoceo to help create better, personalised, feedback in reports and parents evening. 

I have also noticed that it is possible to download the quizzes and hand them out as paper resources. I think this really adds to socrative: It takes a long time to type a multiple choice test, but this means that it will be better to type it into socrative and get a paper or online test. Two birds, one stone. It will also mean I can keep a copy in my teaching file or give a copy to a student who forgets or breaks their iPad.

When I have completed all the work for P1/3/4 from the Gateway science GCSEs suite I will share the resources, including the socrative quiz numbers.